Two photos of William McIver sit on a shelf in the office of Baileyville, police chief Bob Fitzsimmons. This small memorial brought McIver's grandmother to tears when she visited the police chief. Photo by Fred J. Field

Deaths of Despair

ABOUT THIS SERIES

In a remote corner of Maine that locals call ‘The Forgotten County,’ the pandemic triggered isolation, economic struggles and a surge in suicides and overdoses. Hindered by a lack of mental health resources, communities and schools in Washington County banded together to find help for those with anxiety, depression and despair. The Maine Monitor chronicles the heartbreaking losses in a county that seeks solace and solutions to prevent more tragedies.

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During a tragic winter that saw four suicides and prolonged isolation, Baileyville Police Chief Bob Fitzsimmons has served as a guardian, confidant and friend to the people in northeastern Washington County.

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Rhonda McIver of Baileyville applied a salve to legs of her disabled husband

Barely hanging on

Her grandson took his life. Then her daughter overdosed. “When people are crying for help, you’ve got to take them seriously,” said Rhonda McIver.

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